The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every three adults has higher-than-normal blood sugar, known as prediabetes. Yet fewer than seven percent of Maine adults have ever been told they have this condition. Often there are no symptoms of prediabetes, but if blood sugar continues to rise, the complications from diabetes can be severe.

Maine currently has 16 sites across the state that are delivering the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long lifestyle-change program to help decrease participants’ risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. A lifestyle coach works with small groups of participants to support positive lifestyle change, like increased physical activity and proper nutrition. Launched in 2012 by the CDC, data show that those who complete the program reduce their likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Many experience weight loss, as well as a drop in blood pressure.

Last year, more than 800 Mainers completed the program. At Pen Bay Hospital, Marcy Kyle said program participants have succeeded at establishing a new way of life that includes a strong support system.

“It’s like the patients are our family,” she said “Within four weeks, the participants meet each other. They may only connect at the meeting, but over time they realize they’ve accomplished something. They’re exercising, keeping food records and within a few months, it’s like they’re a family. They get worried when someone doesn’t come to a class, or they want to send a card to someone when they’re sick. It’s different from anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

ReThinkDiabetes.org is an interactive website that allows people to take a short quiz to assess their prediabetes risk, qualify for a class and search for a class located near them. Those who know they have prediabetes or think they might be at risk, should talk to their doctor about being referred to the program near them.

More information is also available at cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention.